As a graduate student in the LBJ School, Emily Kao Kopfensteiner had never been a TA; teaching 18-year-olds from diverse educational backgrounds was a new experience. Her advisor asked her to TA her Signature Course, Global Inequalities and Health. Emily jumped at the chance: this might be her only chance to gain experience teaching undergraduates, as her advisor’s other courses all require graduate student standing. In Emily’s own words:
As a second year Ph.D. student, I have been interested in pursuing a second career as a professor at the undergraduate level, specifically at the junior or senior level. Prior to this fall, I had not had experience teaching or leading regular discussions, so I was very excited for the opportunity to TA an undergraduate level course. It was an incredible learning experience for which I really enjoyed.
Every undergraduate who enters UT Austin as a first-year student takes a Signature Course, ideally in the first semester. The idea behind the courses is to teach college-level thinking and learning. Emily’s task was to assist the course’s professor in bringing her students up to speed, making sure they were able to write, research, and discuss at a college level. Emily found her teaching style changing and evolving as the semester progressed, thanks to her supportive TA cohort group.
Fortunately, my TA cohort group offered some really great suggestions about dividing the class so students were fo